Do You Bow-Wow? Sarosh Mulla and Patrick Loo Consider the Virtues of Atelier Bow-Wow’s Unique Design Approach
07 2010 THE BROADSHEET OF THE AUCKLAND BRANCH OF THE NEW ZEALAND INSTITUTE OF ARCHITECTS
Auckland Architecture: A Field Guide Pip Cheshire Reflects on our Collective Position in the Eye of the Populace Since forming Atelier Bow-Wow in 1992, Yoshiharu Tsukamoto and Momoyo Kaijima have been producing some of the quirkiest and most subtly nuanced work of their generation. Their seemingly light hearted name masks what is an extremely insightful research based practice. Not to say they are paper architects. Their projects range in scale and are defined by their spatial inventiveness, rather than aesthetic brand. They have gained notoriety for shoe-horning complex buildings into tightly packed urban neighbourhoods. This notoriety has developed steadily into a loyal following and as Japanese architecture becomes more and more the focus of the international discourse, Bow-Wow are set to become central to that discourse. Both Tsukamoto and Kaijima teach at some of the most progressive architectural institutes in the world, including Harvard GSD and ETH Zurich. These institutions are known for pursuing discourses that are focused on the way design is approached. This can be seen in Bow-Wow’s research into what might be thought of as evolutionary urbanism, that is, the way the city makes and remakes itself within its own laws of selection. Research also plays a large part in the design process of Atelier Bow-Wow. Their investigations into small “pet architecture” showed how in-between spaces get adopted and developed in Tokyo, often resulting in the quirky assemblage that doesn’t occur in greenfield sites, or even in less densely populated cities. Following these investigations the practice also presented speculative “pet architectures” that they have envisaged but are yet to realised. Of course, when you’re a firm that realises there can be no wasted space within the city, there is going to be a translation into the domestic realm. Within their houses every space is exploited – a lesson that is so useful for a country that is now learning to deal with urban densification. Atelier Bow-Wow teach us that while the dreams of quarter-acre living may now be disappearing or becoming too expensive for most, we must
not view being squished back towards the city as necessarily a bad thing as it forces an exciting re-imagining of what constitutes domestic space. While at first glance, some projects could be written off as pure formalism, each project is anchored by a genuine consideration of the internal inhabitable environment. The spatial complexity, particularly in the residential projects, results in a new way of living. The project, House Tower exemplifies this. Taking a 42.29sqm site and supplying a family home with a total floor area of 65.28sqm, while simultaneously creating a building footprint of only 18.44sqm takes skill. It takes even greater skill to produce such a building with genuine moments of spatial delight and generosity. Living spaces flow into each other vertically and create subtly elegant volumes that articulate the program over the split levels. The finishing of the project is of the usual high standard, but it is the reconsideration of the high density housing typology that is particularly interesting. The practice manages to convey their concern with the occupant through their drawings by adding a perspectival projection to plans and sections (see overleaf). These drawings show the occupants sleeping, eating and generally living in the space. These drawings are not simply ink sketches that show a stylised image of the volume, they are highly detailed construction drawings which also take on the duty of communicating texture, light and other tactile issues that are scarcely seen within a CAD drawing. Another key feature of these drawings is that they show an understanding of context in relation to the client. Atelier Bow-Wow’s architecture is not an imagining of an idealistic living environment littered with magazine cutouts. They are concerned with producing a direct response to client needs that doesn’t rely on placing a neutral ‘flexible’ gallery backdrop. Why should the occupant have to buy new furniture?
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The Auckland Field Guide is a book I refer to occasionally as I seek to understand the extent of rhyolite, or the location of a decent stand of kahikatea on the isthmus – a useful guide for a transplanted Mainlander in the volcano field we now call home. Thumbing through the other night, a phrase leapt to attention; though perhaps not for the reason author Ewan Cameron intended: it proclaimed “Auckland is the weediest city in the world”. This horticultural insight would normally elicit only passing interest were it not hot on the heels of my squinting at my neighbour’s Dominion on the 5.30 out of Wellington. As much as I could make out, the general thrust of the editorial was that we were on par with a spoilt child – “we (all of Wellington??) gave you a stadium on the waterfront and you spat it back, we (the kind Wellingtonians again??) gave you a wharf and a cruise ship terminal and you spat it back, what the hell is wrong with you??. The Listener’s Jane Clifton reckons that Aucklanders generally deal with things by ignoring them and hoping they will go away but for we architects the nonsense of Queens Wharf is just too big, too close and too important to leave to the pollies. The result of architects poking their heads above the palisade and making public comment has been a hail of critique as everyone from AUT’s rogue academic Paul Moon to ex black cap cricketer Richard Boock indicated we had a bloody nerve even voicing an opinion, no matter what it might be. The argument runs that Auckland has such a miserable collection of buildings that we, the perpetrators, are lucky to escape the stocks and should generally keep our heads down and traps shut. While we might stick out our bottom lips and point out that most of the buildings over five stories in the CBD are spawned in
drawing offices across the ditch it was hard at times not to feel that the mob might just be a wee bit right, that Auckland is a tad weedy and that we architects, well that coterie of self appointed experts who ventured into print at least, might be among the more noxious occupants of the Waitemata shoreline. Thank god we hide our sensitive souls under a carapace of hardened ego and such thoughts gain no purchase as we reflect on the last year or so and realise that in the political arena architects have about as much influence as lint on the mayoral robes. This is a grim state of affairs. The hybrid ‘solution’ we have ended up with for the wharf might be the worst of all possible worlds- a shed repaired only enough to not be an embarrassment, a plastic tent already maligned as ‘the slug’ and the loss of the smaller shed at the wharf’s end. Brian Rudman has though rightly pointed out that, chaotic and half arsed as this decision is, it at least leaves the wharf free of a cruise ship terminal until after the footy and a proper analysis of that need within the greater extent of the working harbour context is undertaken. We can only hope that this has more logic than we have seen to date. Amid all the detritus of failed dreams it’s often hard to get a line of the various strategies in play at any one time; how much the scrum has been turned by the deal done with the IRB, the wild punts for territory by local pollies on the campaign trail or the relentless rolling maul from the Beehive. We architects have a bit to answer for here, too. For a while there, it seemed the only architects north of the Bombay Hills not chasing the high ball were sole traders in the far eastern suburbs as our mates and peers popped up on radio, tv and the daily papers with views that veered from the shameless hustling of yet another project based on a kete or Continued overleaf...
UNITEC STUDENT REPORT: Stu Penno & Rachel Dawkins Over the break a group of students spent three weeks in China, visiting Hong Kong, Shanghai, Su Zhou and Hang Zhou City, among others centres, visiting historical monuments and more recent projects like the Shanghai Expo site. The group also visited a architectural practices and one of Unitec’s partner Universities. A great trip was had by all. Preparations are underway for Superstudio, which will be held at Unitec on the 6th & 7th of August. The 24-hour studio competition is open to students from all Schools of Architecture. Continued on back page of Guide...
ALC素地 サンドペーパーがけ autoclaved light-weight concrete sandpapered texture
天井アラワシ ALC exposed autoclaved light-weight concrete
スチール PL t=1.6mm OP steel plate t=1.6mm oil paint
As part of Kaijima’s visit to Auckland she will be ▽B1CL=GL-1400 giving a lecture at 6pm on Wednesday 4th August at Fisher & Paykel Auditorium, Owen G Glenn Bldg, 12 Grafton Road. Tickets: $25 (students $20) Bookings: www.ticketek.co.nz (booking fee may apply) Kaijima will also speak at The Arts Center in Christchurch on 5th August, and in Wellington on October 11th. 60
断面詳細パース / vertical section perspective 1/30
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Atelier Bow-Wow’s Momoyo Kaijima has been appointed as the University of Auckland防塵塗装 School of Architecture and Planning’s 150 t=50mm International Architect モルタル金ゴテ in Residence スタイロフォーム t=30mmfor 2010. PL/SM
lauan perforated plywood t=5.5mm
After winning first prize in the Miyagi Stadium ▽1FL Competition in 1992, Hitoshi Abe established a high-profile design practice based in Sendai, Japan. Known for spatially complex and structurally innovative buildings, the work of Atelier Hitoshi Abe has been widely published and received numerousラワン合板 awards, t=12mm plywood both nationally and internationally. Abe is lauan also globally t=12mm スタイロフォーム t=30mm打込 コンクリート打放し 簡易山留め recognised as an scholar and educatorAEP– he was exposed concrete rigid insulation form t=30mm acrylic paint professor at Tohoku University inemulsion Sendai, and now serves as Chair of the Department of Architecture 機械室 machine room 塗布防水剤 & Urbanism, School of Arts and Architecture at the 打継部 h=80mm University of California in Loswaterproofing Angeles. This lecture is placing joint part h=80mm generously supported by The ASIA:NZ Foundation.
self leveling concrete t=180mm
Wednesday 11th August, 6.30pm Engineering Lecture Theatre 1.439, 20 Symonds Street
To facilitate the successful delivery of such spaces, Bow-Wow conduct discussions with their clients about their previous spatial experiences – what their previous homes have been like, what they enjoyed and didn’t enjoy about their work spaces. These 天井アラワシ ALC discussions lead to consideration of how the spaces affect exposed autoclaved light-weight concrete behaviour of the occupants, resulting in a re-evaluation of the way コンクリート打放 AEP H-194×150×6×9mm exposed concrete in which thing about セラミック耐火被覆 t=15mm people conduct their lives. One interesting acrylic emulsion paint H-194×150×6×9mm celamic fireproof cover t=15mm the work that Atelier Bow-Wow produces is that its quality is not linked to its context or scale. 事務所１ There is also no defined aesthetic 1 style to tell the viewer that theoffice project has come from Bow-Wow. Instead, a way of working is present in the body of work that ラワン有孔合板 t=5.5mm defines the uniqueness of their clients.
防塵クリア塗装 HITOSHI ABE / ATELIER HITOSHI ABE / SENDAI & セルフレベリング コンクリート t=180mm LOS ANGELES dustproofing clear paint
防塵クリア塗装 Continued from back モルタル金ゴテ ALC t=100mm dustproofing clear paint trowel mortar autoclaved light-weight concrete t=100mm ▽1.5FL
□-200 錆止塗料 □-200 rust preventive paint
FAST FORWARD LECTURE
Perspectival Section – House & Atelier, Atelier Bow-Wow
本棚 book shelf
改質アスファルト防水 t=4mm ケイカル板 t=6m 合板捨て貼 t=9mm 野縁30×30@303mm グラスウール t=50mm敷込 refoaming asphalt waterproofing t=4mm silicate calcium board t=6mm plywood underlay t=9mm ceiling joist 30×30mm @303mm glass wool t=50mm
事務所２ office 2
天井露し ALC exposed autoclaved light-weight concrete
防塵クリア塗装 モルタル金ゴテ ALC t=100mm dustproofing clear paint troweled mortar autoclaved light-weight concrete t=100mm
PRACTICE ISSUES GROUP: John Anderson At our meeting on July 6th, Barry Dacombe presented on the topic of construction insurances and the NZIA SCC 2009 Contract. Barry reviewed the requirements for assessing insurance cover for a range of insurance extensions for General Liability, Motor Vehicle Third Party and Construction Plant and Equipment for different types of project - additions and alterations, tenancy work and new work. He reviewed the reasons for the revisions and explained the content of the insurance section F of this contract. Barry also reviewed the Practice note PN 9.410 covering the recent changes made to construction insurances within the SCC 2009 contract which outlines the issues. It contains three pro-forma letters to the client covering the three construction insurances for alterations and additions, tenancy work in a new building, and new construction, outlining the appropriate procedure for the architect. Also contained are the practice note letters for insurances to clients and how architects can reduce the risk of underinsuring or not insuring for
ACC ISSUES: Christina van Bohemen I attended my first meeting of the ACC Regulatory Advisory Board. The role of the board is to assist council to plan and deliver regulatory services and to promote dialogue between the Council and stakeholders who include representatives of the construction sector (residential and commercial), Property Council, resource and environmental management, corporate/commercial and government sectors. NZIA Auckland Branch is represented by Brian Aitken (large practice perspective) and myself (small practice perspective. Reporting from Council includes data on processing timelines etc. There was also discussion about the streamlined planning application process. I propose that an update on this be included in the next edition of BLOCK. Plan Change 163 – Res 1 Appeal: ACC is keen to reach agreement with NZIA Auckland Branch about dealing with Res 1 RC applications in order for the Branch to withdraw its appeal against Res 1 as a 274 Party. Discussion is ongoing. Marsh Cook and Graeme Burgess are assisting with this.
防塵クリア塗装 モルタル金ゴテ ALC t=100mm dustproofing clear paint troweled mortar autoclaved light-weight concrete t=100mm
踊場３ landing floor 3
砕石転圧 EVENTS PORTFOLIO: Andrea Bell A meeting of the events branch members was held on Monday 21st June. The purpose of the meeting was to decide a short list of speakers for the Architecture Weekend in October.
アルミサッシュ,ペアガラス 親水性ガラス5+A12+耐熱強化ガラス5 aluminium sash double glazing hydophylic glass5+A12+heat resistance glass5
House & Atelier Bow-Wow
CHAIR’S REPORT: Harry Street 1. Auckland Branch Awards: The venue for the awards is confirmed and booked – St Mathew in the city 14th Oct 2010. 2. Futuna Chapel: Nick Bevan (Chair, Friends of Futuna Charitable Trust) would like to address the committee at the August meeting regarding progress to date on restoring the Chapel and future plans including fundraising. He is keen to secure contributions from architects (and others) from around the country (it is a nationally significant building). I have discussed with Lindley Naismith the possibility of a CPD event (project and process) with the proceeds going to the Trust. 3. Fellows: Some nominations have come forward – as attached. 4. Super City: Hugh Chapman is keen that architects (and engineers) stand for the proposed local Boards. He is proposing to address a meeting of architects to encourage their participation. 5. Presidents Tour: Date for Auckland Branch to be confirmed.
木製サッシュ FIX ペアガラス PW6.8+A12+FL5 wooden sash fixed double glazing PW6.8+A12+FL5
天井露し ALC exposed autoclaved light-weight concrete
Combined Excerpts from the Reports to NZIA Auckland Branch meeting of May 2010
桐板 t=9mm ワックス仕上げ paulownia wood t=9mm wax finish
□-200mm 錆止塗装 □-200mm anti-corrosive paint リビング・ダイニング living・dining room
The Fine Print: May
桐フローリング t=15mm ワックス仕上げ ラワン合板 t=15mm ALC t=100mm paulownia flooring t=15mm wax finish lauan plywood t=15mm autoclaved light-weight concrete t=100mm
TECHNICAL ISSUES GROUP: Nicole Tarlton & Jerome Buckwell The third seminar in the Building Envelope series will be held on 27th July. Jerome Partington, Sustainability Manager at Jasmax will present a talk on insulation. Topics to be covered: • Insulation products and their pros and cons. • Insulating walls. • Insulating roofs. • Retrospective insulation techniques and products. • Slab vs. suspended timber floors . • Weather tightness and thermal efficiency. • Dew point calculations and issues relating to interstitial condensation. • Software available online for dew point calculations. Our next seminar will be on ‘curtain walling.’ We are also investigating the possibility of having a presentation on ‘Low-rise commercial projects: Design Wind Pressures & Wind Zone Specification’. John Sutherland is assisting with this. UNITEC REPORT: Tony van Raat The second semester has just started. New staff include Dina Krunic from New York here with us for a 6 week period teaching algorithmic digital design. She replaces Lul Leckle from Toscana. Lester Mismash who is a LEED-accredited designer from Arizona has also joined and will be teaching sustainable design. Professor Mitrovic is back from his time in Berlin on the Humboldt Fellowship and his period at the Clark Institute. Dr Schnoor also returns from a year on staff exchange in Germany. The School is delivering a new NZ architectural history elective on Mondays at 5.00 in Lecture Theatre 1 of Building 1. Open to the public, the lecture next week is by professor Mike Austin on post-colonial Maori architecture. Subsequent lectures on the 19th and 26th by Adam Wild are on the colonial period. More will follow. Two groups of 4 students from year 1 of the Masters programme start working on projects in the local offices of WAM and Jasmax. The students were selected by competitive interview and pressure for these placements, which last for a semester, was intense.
Given the scarcity of competitions it is inevitable that the lure of a juicy commission, no matter how ill conceived the project, will induce us to cast good sense to the four winds and sacrifice the commercial well being of our practices on the faint chance that this might be a competition with some sort of outcome. Of greater loss than sleep and income though is the profession’s ability to speak with anything like independence on matters of vital civic concern. Where the aspirations of individual practioners preclude objectivity, and in the Queens Wharf competition that took out the president, president elect, previous president, tallest past president and the local chair, that left only the gentle voice of the urban design lobby to offer any sort of objectivity. Alas the world of urban design is not well suited to the snappy sound bite, the ideas being complex and less accessible than architecture; it is, for example, easy for the public to put the boot into our imperfect buildings in Queen Street but somewhat harder to figure out what exactly urban design is. This difficulty is a special case of the gulf between architects and lay people that we will need to address if we are to have any say in the way our city is shaped especially given the implicit concentration of power the supercity heralds. If the various footy on the foreshore debacles have revealed anything, it is the need for commentary free from jargon and self-interest and in language accessible to the public. Unless we are able to provide this we will remain bit players, pillow puffers in shaping the city’s living room – an unfairly cruel fate for a profession many of whose members commit a great deal of pro bono time and energy to the city. Though Christina van Bohemen as local chair lobbied well, the institute, the natural voice in such events, has traditionally had a difficult time generating a singular view, representing as it does the good, the bad and the ugly. Amanda Reynolds managed to gather a mandate for a vociferous NZIA led opposition to the Mills council’s proposal for Britomart, and while much of that campaign rested on her indomitable and articulate personality, it is time to revisit that strategy again methinks. PC
アルミサッシュ,ペアガラス 親水性ガラス t=5mm A12mm+PW6.8 aluminium sash double glazing hydrophylic glass5+A12+PW6.8
upturned waka to measured pronouncements on the witless antics of local authorities.
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certain eventualities for the client, builder and themselves. Both the lunch time and evening presentations were well attended and Barry was able to clearly explaine the issues and the architect’s role and obligations as regards this component of the SCC 2009 contract.
踊場４ landing floor 4
Reflecting on Queen’s Wharf
改質アスファルト防水 t=4mm ケイカル板 t=6mm ラーチ合板 t=9mm 竪胴縁45x45mm @275mmボンド＋ビス グラスウール t=50mm ALC t=100mm refoaming asphalt waterproofing t=4mm insulating fiber board t=6mm larch plywood t=9mm vertical furring strips 45×45mm @275mm bond+screw glass wool t=50mm autoclaved light-weight concrete t=100mm
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UOA REPORT: Uwe Rieger 1. Semester 2 will start 19.7.10 2. The Head of School, Sarah Treadwell, has returned from sabbatical. 3. The School will be running three design studios in cooperation international architects. Martin Axe [Malaysia] will offer an intensive design studio, and Hidetoshi Ohno [Tokyo] will be teaching as part of the MArch(Prof) thesis program. Momoyo Kaijima from Japan is visiting as our new `International Architect in Residence` at the School of Architecture and Planning. 4. The school is currently advertising a position for a Lecturer /Senior Lecturer in Sustainability and Design 5. The school will be running two lecture series in semester 2: `Fast Forward` organized by Andrew Barrie; and sustainabilityfocussed `Future Proof`, organized by Hugh Byrd. The lectures are all public, and details will be widely advertised. UOA STUDENT REPORT: Aishwarya Basrur & Jordon Saunders During the holidays a group of thesis students have received confirmation for an exhibition at the George Fraser gallery to be held in October. GRADUATE PROFESSIONAL EDUCATION: Sarah MacKenzie & Sandy Hayward Study Group Workshop: Event scheduled for Thursday, 22nd July. This is an opportunity for prospective registrants to get together and meet potential study buddies. This will also look at the best practices for study preparation, case study tips, and will be tailored for the new Experience Areas document as issued this year. So far we have had a good response, with 45 confirmed attendees to date. Experience Area Weekend: This took place over the weekend of 11-12 June. Usually well attended, the weekend is a great opportunity to have the core competencies explained in more depth, and will have covered the new Experience Areas. For Those Applying for Registration in September: There have been revisions to the NZRAB Registration forms, the Complex Building Statement form, and Project Record forms. Check the NZRAB website for more details. ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES GROUP: Megan Rule Talks: Last month Tim Bishop from Sustainable Habitat Challenge (SHAC) presented outcomes from SHAC 2009. If members have a building project in design phase involving collaborative and experimental ideas of broad interest, the 2011 biannual provides an opportunity to share your work. Check out www.shac.org.nz for more information. July 13: Passive House Design - Kara Rosemeier introduced the international “passive house” model based on performance/post occupancy standards to minimise energy use. Kara is offering a short block course at Unitec on Designing Passive Houses in June/November. August 10: NZ House, A talk on NZ climate response. While we look to innovative overseas developments to improve our housing energy performance, we cannot lose sight of our own unique environment and cultural landscape. September/October: Planned talks will be in conjunction with Auckland University. Environmental Policy: EIG has submitted an environmental policy proposal for consideration at the next Council meeting in August. It is designed to compliment the UN Earth Charter and the UIA Declaration with a NZ focus. As a result of policy development the environment group is now looking at steps to initiate an industry wide alliance based on a successful overseas model. HERITAGE PORTFOLIO: Adam Wild Coolangatta – A Homage : Peter Macky has produced a book on the demise of the Noel Bamford-design house Coolangatta in Remuera. This was formally launched in Remuera earlier this month. In the book, he tracks not only the factors contributing to the failure to formally recognise the house and consequentially approve its demolition, but also he traces the roots of a great family home and places it in a contemporary context of other
significant domestic dwellings in Auckland. Historic Landscapes: Running until the 21st of July, this exhibition co-sponsored by Auckland City Heritage and AUT University School of Art and Design “[re] presents Auckland Future” in models. Two of these are historic physical scale models from the 1930s and c.1970 and others are modern virtual models. NZIA COUNCILOR’S REPORT: Tim Melville Council Meeting: The next Council Meeting and Strategic Planning session is scheduled for August 5th/6th so this Branch meeting is the last formal opportunity for the committee to raise matters for me to take to that forum. A couple of issues that members have raised with me recently are the need to undertake some statistical analysis of membership workload and project types to better understand our position and role in the industry, and concerns around the limiting of awards in the residential category of the New Zealand Awards programme. Environmental Policy: The EIG has completed a draft NZIA Environmental Policy which Megan has forwarded to Council members for review. The Building Act: Patrick and Richard Harris met with the Minister a fortnight ago to present the Briefing Paper on the proposed repeal of the Building Act as a supplement to the original NZIA Building Act submission. Patrick has reported that the meeting went well and that the paper will now be considered alongside the original submission. The membership owes its thanks to Roger Hay, Dave Launder and John Sutherland who put a lot of hard work into preparing the paper. A key aspect was the proposal for more certification by design professionals which is an issue to which the membership will need to give careful consideration. If you would like to read the submission follow this link: www.nzia. co.nz/content.aspx?c=111&t=Submissions. NZIA Conference 2012: Patrick has had a preliminary meeting with Andrew Barrie and Rich Naish to look at concepts for the NZIA Conference proposed for February 2012. COMMITTEE FOR AUCKLAND/FUTURE AUCKLAND LEADERS: Marianne Riley In May there were two FAL sessions. The first covered economics with Rod Oram on the 13th May. This was held at Microsoft in Halsey St where the Microsoft people introduced cloud computing. Rod then presented Auckland and New Zealand’s economic position, pointing out the depressing fact that that NZers work the hardest for the least monetary reward. There was then a brainstorming session on how this could be addressed. The second session was an “authentic” leadership session run by AUT on the 25th May. On the 10th June, Ports of Auckland hosted the FAL. The head of Ports of Auckland gave a very interesting presentation which outlined the expansion plans for Ports of Auckland. The trend for the port is for much larger ships coming, which require more area to store containers. The eastern most wharf will be expanded further and densely populated with containers which will be possible with new ship loaders. Alistair from Ports of Auckland then led us on a high security tour of the ports in a double-decker bus. The bus drove past the new Golden Bay storage building, a large concrete bunker with concrete fins on the outside. The release of the finger wharfs was discussed, Ports of Auckland are building a 3 storey car park with ramps to each level to reduce the amount of surface parking. Unfortunately, many of the containers that sit along Quay St are empty due to the weaker export market. The port is obviously a very complex operation that links strongly into the wider economic picture.
An Auckland Architecture Weekend Design Competiton Limited open entry. Design and fabricate a SKYRISE Saturday 16 October, 2010. Sheds 1+2, 101 Halsey Street, The Viaduct, Auckland, CBD. Registration by Friday 10 September 2010. All info: http://skyrise-city.blogspot.com/ Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
NOT ON MAP 9
The Blue Baths, 1933
City Guide: Rotorua Architecture seems to be a big city activity. It is, of course, possible to think of exceptions - Mario Botta in the mountain resort town of Lugano, Peter Zumthor beavering away in the tiny Swiss village of Haldenstein, or more close at hand, John Scott seeming to pluck inspired designs from the coastal air of Haumoana – but almost every significant architect is associated with a particular metropolis, and much of what we assume is important about architectural culture seems to rely on metropolitan densities of wealth and sophistication. Even here in decidedly un-metropolitan New Zealand, the big cities seem to predominate. A scan of the list of NZIA National Awards reveals the dominance of Christchurch, Wellington, and (particularly) Auckland; places like Gisborne, Russell, or Levin rarely make the list. It is hard to know whether this is because of a lack of architectural ambition among small town architects, or because their important opportunities are usually snaffled by big city design firms; Aucklanders often complain about Aussies jetting in to snatch plum commissions, but seem not to hesitate at getting on a plane to Queenstown or Paraparaumu to pick up projects. Rotorua is one of the many provincial cities in New Zealand where civic architecture has largely been created by those that don’t live there. In Rotorua, this was exaggerated by the peculiar role outside authorities, particularly the central government, have played in its development – it was unique in the Commonwealth in being a government-controlled town. Early European visitors encountered a geothermal and scenic wonderland - the spectacular Pink and White Terraces on Lake Tarawera, mud pools, geysers and hot springs with healing qualities. Sensing the area’s potential as a tourist destination – the vision was for a spa resort in a grand European manner -the government acquired land adjacent to the Ngati Whakaue village at Ohinemutu in the 1880s. Land in the new town was offered for lease to the public, and spa facilities were quickly developed in the Sanatorium Reserves (the area that is now the Government Gardens). The destruction of the Pink and White Terraces with the eruption of 1886 didn’t dampen the tourist trade, and by 1907 there were at least 25 hotels and boarding houses in the area, with the grand, Tudor style Bath House opening the following year. The vision didn’t quite eventuate; the notion of the waters as a miraculous cure-all was officially debunked by the middle of the century, and the Bath House closed in 1966. Rotorua’s waters, however, have continued to attract tourists for their recreational rather than curative benefits, and the region’s cultural and natural amenities have ensured that the city remained a tourist hotspot. In 1962, Rotorua reached a population of 20,000 and was declared a city. During the post-war years farming and forestry industries were developing significantly in the surrounding districts, and like many New Zealand cities, Rotorua experienced a building boom. The city was no longer government controlled, but it became a centre for government administration with numerous government departments establishing regional headquarters in high-modern office blocks. Generating consierable architectural production, the two activities of tourism and administration set the architectural character of the city. Rotorua has been home to talented architects, the work of several of whom is included in this guide, but is an architectural paradox: a city that developed because of the unique natural assets of its particular location, but both its architecture and the architects that created it always seem to be looking to much bigger places elsewhere. Andrew Barrie & Julia Gatley
1901 Princes Arch Gateway Arawa Street
Originally built in honor of the 1901 visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York (who later became King George V and Queen Mary), this totara structure was intended as a stylized representation of a Crown. The spectacle was enhanced by illumination with electric lights, electricity having only just become available in the city. Portions of the Gateway, now HPT Category 2 listed, were moved after the visit to its present location to serve as the entrance to the Government Gardens. Head across the road to take a look at the HPT-listed Princes Gate Hotel, originally built in 1897.
St Faith’s Church 1 Tunohupu St., Ohinemutu Edward La Trobe Hill
Subject of a thousand postcards, the Anglican church of St. Faith’s sits on the edge of the lake in the Maori village of Ohinemutu. The Edward La Trobe Hill-designed Tudor-style building replaced an earlier one built in 1885. Inside the church is richly decorated with carvings, tukutuku panels, and a window overlooking the lake showing a Maori Christ who seems to be walking on water. The adjacent Tamatekapua meeting house is worth a look – it reopened in 1943, but many of its carvings may be much older. La Trobe Hill also designed the Rotorua Soldiers’ Institute (1918) at 1133 Hinemaru Street, his own house (1927) at 1282 Hinemoa Street, and Glenholme, 63 Miller Street (1900).
Police Station Cnr Haupapa & Tutanekai Sts Government Architect’s Office
The Bath House Government Gardens W. J. Trigg & B. S. Corlett.
An early Governmentsponsored tourism initiative, The Bath House opened in 1908. Designed to evoke the atmosphere of a European spa, the complex was built in an Elizabethan half-timbered style and is regarded by many as the most impressive Elizabethan Revival building in the country. The spa facilities have now moved elsewhere on the site (try the Polynesian Spa!), and the HPT Category 1-listed building now houses the Rotorua Museum of Art & History. The Government Gardens contain a number of other architectural treats: the Tea Pavilion (1903), the pagoda-roofed Croquet Pavilion (1907), and J.T. Mair’s Spanish Mission-style Blue Baths (1933).
Government Building 1127 Haupapa Street Government Architect’s Office
Post Office 34 Arawa Street John Campbell
Rotorua Civic Theatre 1170 Fenton Street Edmund Anscombe & Assocs
McKillop Girls College Kahu Street James Hackshaw
Another favorite of postcard printers, the two floors and tower of this building are clad in rough cast cement plaster with decorative Tudor timberwork. It was designed by John Campbell, who is now best known as the winner of the 1911 competition for the design of Parliament Buildings in Wellington. Now occupied by the Department of Labour, the building is HPT Category 2 listed. Campbell also designed the Queen Anne-style Government Tourist Bureau (1903) at the other end of the block, the two buildings now being connected by the Tourism Information Centre erected in 1993 by Auckland firm Creative Spaces.
At the time this building was produced, Anscombe was one of the county’s leading architects, running offices in Dunedin, Wellington and the Hawkes Bay. He had produced such designs as the Classicalstyle Sarjeant Art Gallery in Wanganui and the moderne Centennial Exhibition in Wellington (1939-1940), but this project is an eclectic mixture of Stripped Classical and Spanish Mission elements. In addition to the theatre, concert chamber and supper room, the building originally housed the library, municipal offices and museum. It has now been signicantly extended, creating some intriguing inside-outside inversions. The building is HPT Category 1 listed.
James Hackshaw was one of the key members of The Group, and so produced numerous innovative residential projects through the 1950s. Following his 1958 departure from the firm, much of his work came from the Catholic Church, and he produced numerous churches and schools, although these buildings closely followed the tectonic principles and loose, informal planning he had established in his residential work. Hackshaw masterplanned this school, and its most noteworthy element is the chapel designed in 1976. The school was amalgamated with the adjacent boys’ school in 1987, and is now co-ed John Paul College.
1962 Gov’t Life Insurance Building 1115 Haupapa Street Porter & Martin
Timber Research Building Sala Street Ministry of Works (J. Newnham)
2007 Energy Events Centre Government Gardens Boon Goldsmith Bhaskar
1976-81 Rainbow Springs Fairy Springs Road Roger Walker
In the late 1970s Walker worked on two high-profile tourist facilities - at Waitomo Caves (now destroyed) and here at Rainbow Springs. After designing the Kiwi House in 1976, he completed the souvenir shop and offices (1977) and the tearooms and restaurant (1981). Walker fans might also head over to Whakatane Airport (1974), one of his best (and best preserved) designs for a public building and winner of an NZIA Local Enduring Architecture Award in 2003. Walker also designed Solitaire Lodge on Lake Tarawera.
2008 Lockwood Gullwing 55 Fairy Springs Road Strachan Group Architects
Rotorua Civic Centre 1061 Haupapa Street Warren & Mahoney
Te Puia Hemo Road Creative Spaces
Warren & Mahoney received this commission as the result of a competition in which, according to Sir Miles, one of his spectacular (and detailed) watercolors may have been the clinching factor. Internally, all of the Council functions have been arranged around an elongated, skylit, triple-height atrium, intended to create legibility and develop a sense of the Council as an integrated whole. The project won an NZIA National Award in 1986. See NZ Local Govt. March 1986.
This tourist facility won an NZIA Regional Award in 2007. The citation read: “A new interpretation on Maori heritage and the experiential learning of visitors to Rotorua, Te Puia is a stunning journey through cultural and architectural forms. Te Puia is a taonga for the present and future, and demonstrates e kitea iho an ate haere o nga take mai ra ano ki tenei wa, a, tae noa kit e wa kei te heke mai. (visible evidence of the continuity between past, present and future.) It is an inspired cultural complex, well executed and presented, sensitive to place, time and those who work in and who pass through this experience. … Words can not describe this special place - it has to be experienced.”
Westpac Bank (1937) 1251 Tutanekai Street Charles Towle Towel is known to Aucklanders as the architect of the competition-winning but neverfinished Holy Trinity Cathedral in Parnell.
All photographs are by Andrew Barrie or Julia Gatley.
South British Insurance Building (1958) 1272 Fenton Street M. K. Draffin Now occupied by Family Start. The sunshades are not original.
This building was produced by John T. Mair during his time as Government Architect. One of the building’s most unusual features was the plaster-cast frieze of Maori motifs – this was locally made – that runs around the outside of the building. It’s heavy-duty stuff – the reinforced concrete structure is clad in brick veneer to produce exterior walls that are18 inches thick. The building served as police station until 1969, when the Police moved to a more purely modern edifice (by F G Sheppard, Government Architect) in Fenton Street – it is now the Pig & Whistle Pub (open 11.30am ’til late, seven days a week).
Due to its importance as a tourist hub, Rotorua was administered directly by the central government for much of its early history, and a strong government presence remained. In the 1960s and 1970s, Rotorua was one of the fast developing parts of the country, as the economic power of the forestry and farming industries in the central North Island expanded. New facilities were developed in Rotorua to serve as regional administrative center for government agencies, the Government Building - designed during F. Gordon Wilson’s reign as Government Architect - being the first. No much aletred.
George Porter had served for a time in the Ministry of Works , and his Wellington-based firm of Porter & Martin was involved in a great many civic and town planning projects. As well as this, the firm produced at least four other Government Life buildings – New Plymouth, Palmerston North, Masterton, and Lower Hutt. Another significant building in the Government Precinct is the Maori Land Court (1963) at 1143 Haupapa Street - still in original condition (complete with James Turkington mural). It was produced by the Government Architect’s Office, the project overseen by District Architect Frank Anderson.
John Newnham is best known as the designer of the New Zealand Pavilion at Expo 70, Osaka. Common to the Japan and Rotorua buildings was the imperative to demonstrate the different ways in which both native and exotic timbers could be used. Here, timber posts and beams were given architectural expression. In addition, sixteen gluelaminated parabolic arches originally circled an entry rotunda, complemented internally by ‘ornamental’ wall linings and radiating floor boards. Unfortunately the rotunda has been demolished, and the best remaining element is a substantial spiral staircase.
The project, which sits behind the 1908 Baths building on the lake shore, received an NZIA Local Award and a Resene Color Award in 2008. The citation read: “Respecting the sensitive site and multiple cultural issues, this complex provides well organised large event spaces with a high degree of flexibility and appropriate scale. A mixture of contemporary and traditional cultural images are interwoven with a rich texture of modern building materials that humanise the extensive spaces. … The use of Maori symbolism throughout the building is offset against a colour palette that is carefully blended by a very competent team.”
In a very 21st century attempt at the modernist dream of making high-quality design available to the masses, SGA produced a series of designs that make environmental and sustainable design readily accessible. The Gullwing show home is the first from this EcoSmart Series to be built. Its design adapts Lockwood’s solid wood construction while incorporating classic SGA elements such as carefully positioned thermal mass, the outdoor room, and the planted entry courtyard. See Home NZ Aug./Sept. 2008. The house stands in Lockwood’s national show home village, open 10am to 4pm, 7 days a week. The village also includes Pete Bossley’s dynamic Canopy show home.
Lee Brothers Building (1958) 1181 Eruera Street Alleman Land Newnham & Verrall See Home & Building Oct.1960. NZI Building (1964) 1246-1250 Fenton Street Gummer Ford Hoadley Budge & Gummer Somewhat altered. Gummer et al also designed the State Insurance Offices (1963) at 1192 Hinemoa Street.
The most comprehensive source on Rotorua’s civic architecture is the Rotorua Central Area Built Heritage Study prepared in 2007 for the Rotorua District Council by Matthews and Matthews Architects. Many of Rotorua’s key buildings, particularly those in the Government Gardens, have been listed by the Historic Places Trust – information on these buildings is available on the HPT’s online register: www.historic.org.nz. Many of these buildings are also part of the city’s very well developed tourist trail, and so are well described in the tourist literature – try to pick up a copy of the RDC’s Cultural Heritage Trail pamphlet from the Tourist Information Office. The buildings in the Government Precinct are included in Julia Gatley’s Long Live the Modern (Auckland: Auckland University Press, 2008).
St James Theatre (1965) 1126-1138 Tutanekai Street Rigby.Mullan & Associates Now occupied by Destiny Church. St Lukes Church (1974-75, 1981) 1223 Amohia Street Deacon Stock Architects
Maori Land Court, 1963